In the event that your Spring is more grey, overcast and melty than sunny and daffodil-filled, have a read through this truly fantastic (and exhaustive) list of ideas to get yourself out of a funk by the lovely and talented Steff Metal!
In bed. Just you, something (or someone) to snuggle, a laptop, notebook or sketchpad, some rad music, a good movie, and a hot cup of chocolate. It’s the perfect antidote for dreary weather or cancelled plans.
Buy one of those “make your own sushi” kits from the supermarket, and learn to roll your own little roundels of heaven. Once you get good at the traditional Western “chicken teriyaki”, experiment with kooky flavors. My favorite sushi is avocado, creamcheese and pineapple. No joke. Eat your sushi sitting on the floor watching kung fu, Japanese horror, or a good ole-fashioned anime tentacle sex scene.
Buy a packet of ten postcards and send a note to your friends – even the ones you see every day. Tell them how awesome you think they are, and how much you love hanging out with them. Or, if you want to be less sappy, just quote some Manowar lyrics and tell them they smell.
You are going to a gig at the local metal bar. Bake a batch of cookies and bring them along to share. You have now made 50 new friends.
Find poems you like and hang them on your wall or write them on your diary. Every time I read words fitted together like an intricate puzzle, I feel like the whole world is magic. I really love the work of Catullus and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow and Richard Brautigen and Dean Koontz. Even old Aliester Crowley created remarkable imagery.A Boat, by Richard Brautigan
was the werewolf
in his evil forest.
We took him
to the carnival
and he started crying
when he saw
the Ferris wheel.
green and red tears
his furry cheeks.
like a boat
out on the dark
Create outfits of ridiculous clothes and accessories to do mundane tasks. Walk the dog in your bondage pants and Pantera shirt, vacuum the house in a tutu and high heels, buy milk at the store in nothing but a trench coat. (I’ll let you invent your own definition of “ridiculous”).
Learn a magic trick – it could be something a simple as a card trick or a slight-of-hand. Practise until you’re really good, and delight your friends next time you see them. Don’t give away your secret.
Buy a packet of glow-in-the-dark stick-on stars (you know the ones). Sneak into a friends house while they’re away, and decorate the ceiling of their room. They probably won’t notice till they turn off their light.
Watch a DVD of one of your favorite stand-up comedians. If you don’t have a favorite stand-up comedian, I suggest you get one! Here be my favorites: Dylan Moran, Ed Bryne, Eddie Izzard, Flight of the Conchords.
Make a canopy and coronet for your bed. Go to the fabric store and choose luxurious fabrics – chintz and brocade and lace and satin – in your favorite colours. Gather them on the ceiling and tie them to the corners of your bed. You can attach curtain rods to the ceiling to create a dramatic canopy. If you have any leftover fabric, make a few simple pillows to match. You are now a princess.
Wear a paper hat. You don’t have to stick to the simple boat-shape. Why not design a paper bowler hat, beret or top hat? I have a mini-top hat with a flower I made entirely from Braille paper, which I do wear out on occasion (I shall find a picture)
Go to one of those hippie shops and buy yourself something weird – a homeopath treatment or some incense or a dream catcher or a reiki massage or whatever they’re got on offer. Hell, what have you got to lose?
Run yourself a bath. Gather together all your exquisite bathroom pampering treatments – all the luscious soaps and decadent shower gels you haven’t opened because they’re “special” and you don’t want to use them up. Open them all. Use them all. Take the phone off the hook, put up a do-not-disturb sign, pour yourself a glass of wine or mead, put on some relaxing music, and read a book, or stare at the ceiling.
I’ve never been an advocate for this method of dealing with an issue, because you’re bound to find the issue waiting for you when you return from your sojourn. But sometimes, you just need a break from the world. If you know you need to “get away” for a few days, really get away.
I never forget the thrill of a kite soaring through the sky, tugging at the string in a desperate attempt to be free. Some shops rent kites – a friend and I rented one from a shop on the Gold Coast once, but you’d have to google your area to find out where they are. Better yet, make your own kite.
Find one of those treasure-trove fabric and trimming shops with hundreds of bits of old lace and rooms of buttons and bins of fabric offcuts. Set yourself a budget – say, $15, and find a mad ensemble of items. Take them home and decorate a hat, headband, bag, necklace or bag.
17. Midnight Snackage
Invite someone over for a midnight snack – someone who makes you laugh so hard your stomach hurts. Eat nachos from the plate together and giggle. Last night, a friend and I stayed up late watching old favorites from our DVD collection and eating apple and rhubarb crumble.
Wear a suspender belt (‘garters’ if you’re American) with stockings. All day, every day. Even if your a guy.
Wear bells around your ankles. You can buy ankle bells at medieval markets. I love them, although you can never sneak up behind someone to surprise them.
20. Inexpensive Pampering
Go to a shop like “Lush” and spend some time smelling everything. Then buy yourself a little treat. Many people like to buy incredible handmade soap from Etsy – I don’t, because I live in NZ and the shipping makes it horrendously expensive. Plus you loose out on the smelling – the smelling is the important part.
You should drink water more often – it’s good for you and makes you feel happy. But it should also be fun. Buy yourself a water bottle – not one of those one-use plastic ones, but something grymm, like a stainless steel masterpiece or a skull-shaped bottle. Or find yourself a beautiful vintage glass bottle and use that. I bet you’ll feel like a pirate!
22. Out, out, dammed spot!
Quote Shakespeare at inappropriate moments. If you’ve never developed an appreciation for Shakespeare, it’s never too late to pick up a copy of Richard III or a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Or why not go against the grain and read some Ben Johnson or Thomas Marlowe instead? They were bloody good, too.
23. Ancient Foibles
If you really, really can’t understand the modern English, read Aristophanes – an ancient Greek comic writer. He’s hilarious. Seriously, laugh out loud funny, especially if you have a passing knowledge of ancient Greek culture and mythology. Try the Lysistrata, a play about a group of wives who are desperate to stop the war between Athens and Sparta and bring their husbands home to sleep with them – so desperate, they declare a SEX STRIKE until the war is over. Hilarity Ensues.
Buy or make an amazing gift – like a mix CD of your favorite songs or a beautiful box of chocolates – and wrap it in a big box with a pretty ribbon. Give it a tag saying “to you”, and place it in the middle of the sidewalk outside your window. Watch how long it takes before someone picks it up.
Change your passwords on your email, your bank, your paypal account, everything, to words that make you smile. Banana, elocution, evisceration, duped, muggle, flippant, pumpkmen, snooty, sneed, salacious … the possibilities are endless!
26. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Find a playground in your area. Swing on the swings. Better yet, if you have a backyard with a tree, build a swing for yourself. I find all the world’s problems can be solved by a little swing-time.
27. Love your Fear
If you’re afraid of something, tell yourself you actually love it. I’ve found if you tell yourself something often enough, eventually you’ll believe it. I used to be afraid of thunderstorms, until I started telling myself I loved them: the epic display of nature’s prowess, the anticipation of waiting for thunder, that feeling of being warm and safe inside. Now I love them.
28. To the Theatre
Go and see a play. No, not a movie. An actual display of live theatre. You can find descriptions of plays on theatre websites – local productions cost about the same as a movie ticket, and they often give student discounts. You could travel even further from the norm and try the ballet. I went to the ballet once, and loved it, although it was a production of Dracula. The costumes … sigh!
29. Write to Your Idols
Compile a list of all the people in the world you want to meet – all the amazing artists, writers, musicians, actors, thinkers, dreamers and activists who’ve inspired you over the years.
Start emailing them and making contact. Tell them everything you’d want to tell them in real life – how they touched your life and inspired your own creativity, which of their works had the greatest impact on you, what you think of their latest project. Ask their opinion on matters concerning the world and point them in the direction of your own work. You never know, you might even get a reply!
30. Read Outside
There’s something very peaceful about reading a book under a tree, or while sitting on a wooden bench in a deserted rose garden.
31. Join the Library
I lived in Auckland for four and a half years before I joined the public library, and, although I had access to the university library, I regret my sojourn from fiction books. Now, I work right next door to the library, and I’m reading a book or two every week. Plus, you can use the Internet there for free, and they run fun events and readings and competitions.
32. Break from Technology
Stop watching TV for a week. Unplug the modem. Live in the real world totally and utterly for a week. Sometimes I feel as though we live too much of our life online, and we make contacts, but no real connections. Get out into the world and experience RL for a week – if nothing else, you’ll have something interesting to write about when you get back to your blog. Here are 23 free fun, technology-free, screen-free adventures.
The very act of focusing your thoughts into a haiku relaxes and empowers you. (For those of you who don’t know, a haiku is style of Japanese poetry: the first line has 5 syllables, the second line 7, and the third line 5. Write all your emails in haiku.
34. Krieg Up your Wallet
I bet you keep your money in a plain leather wallet, don’tchya? Well, find something cooler. What about this fleur-de-lys Stone Hinged wallet? Or this Steampunk Gear leather wallet? Or a gothic cigarette tin wallet?
35. Re-create your Food Lust
Think of your favorite food at your favorite restaurant. Now, scour the Internet and all the fancy cookbooks for a likely recipe. Buy all the fresh ingredients and attempt to make your fave dish at home. You probably won’t succeed, but you might come up with something even nicer, or, at the very least, a new appreciation of the skill of your favorite chef.
36. Green Thumb
Buy a weird plant and take care of it. By weird, I mean a deadly nightshade or Venus flytrap or sarracenia or nepenthes. Check out this gothic garden livejournal community for more ideas.
37. Hang Windchimes
I’ve always loved the tinkle of windchimes and crystals. I lined the entire length of my window in my room at my folk’s house with various chimes – ceramic bells I strung up with beads, clear crystals that sparkle in the sun, blown glass droplets which make an incredible sound when they clink together, a ceramic wind chime, dream catchers, African animals with bells … it’s so colorful and cheery.
During my second year of uni, a friend and I embarked on an important and dangerous mission: to banish those horrid words “like” and “totally” from our everyday vocab, when used as a sentence filler “You’re like totally kidding me?” or “I want to, like, find that shirt I lost.” So every time I’d say one of those words, she’s interrupt me and I’d have to say the sentence again, without using “like”. After awhile, your brain gets sick of being interrupted all the time and you stop saying them. It worked for a good two or three years. They’ve crept back into my vocab, and my writing, but I aim to remedy this!
39. Learn Braille
Yes, you read correctly. You’re probably not blind, but you could learn Braille anyway. First, you learn to read the dots with your eyes and interpret them as letters, and then you learn contractions “ed” and “and” and “st”, etc. It’s super easy, like learning a secret code, and will make trips in elevators more fun.
Also, you learn something of what it would be like to lose one of your senses. You understand that, no matter what happens to you, the world keeps turning, and dragging you with it. You can survive anything.
40. Alternatively, learn Sign Language
For the same reasons above.
41. Wear a Mask
If you’re feeling lonely and self-conscious, why not hide your face with a mask? If you want to hide away, hide behind a wall of latex or leather or sequins or lace. Here’s a gorgeous Venetian mask!
You know exercise is good for you, and it makes you feel good. So exercise! Run around the block, do star jumps in the living room. Find the local ice-skating rink or rock climbing wall, hike through the park, practise yoga, salsa dancing or burlesque (you can find lots of free lessons on youtube).
I am legally blind. I can barely see three feet in front of my face. Yet I love archery. Strutting around with a massive bow and arrows in your quiver feels awesome. I’m constantly posing like I’m in Lord of the Rings. Archery takes concentration, a steady hand and a keen eye (or a good spotter). It’s a sport you do outdoors, rain or shine, by yourself or with a friend. There’s no shouting, no balls flying everywhere, no team rivalry … just you and a bow and your own internal challenges.
44. No One at Home
Change your voicemail message to something hilarious. Mine says “Hello, you’ve reached Steff’s cell. Unfortunately, I can’t come to the phone right now, as I’m preparing for the imminent zombie apocalypse. If you’re listening to this, I suggest you find yourself a sharp implement and head to your nearest shopping mall.” All the messages I receive begin with the callers giggling.
45. Worship a new God
Go to a religious service of a religion you don’t belong to and don’t believe in, (only if this is allowed and you’re not offending anyone). Really embrace the experience with an open mind and try to learn something about who these people are, who they believe in and how their faith affects their everyday life.
46. High Heels
Make yourself a pair of stilts. All you need are two sturdy planks or wood, and two wooden squares to act as footholds. Bolt / nail / glue the squares to the wooden planks, sand down the rough edges and practise your high walking!
47. Participate in Operation Beautiful
Operation Beautiful’s mission is to put up anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The notes say “you are beautiful” and give the Operation Beautiful web address. I’ve put up a few around Auckland, and I hope they made somebody’s day.
Dig out your favorites – the music that makes you feel the world is full of wonder. Play loud, sing along, dance on the bed, throw your arms around, headbang, smash something, slow dance with your cat.
49. Realise a Lifelong Dream
Have you ever had a dream come true? I can’t describe the feeling – like everything in your whole life has lead up to that moment, and nothing will ever make you sad again.
I’ve wanted to see the Great Pyramids since I was … ooh, about seven. And when I stood there, and I touched them, and I went inside, I cried. Not very tough, I know. But they were more incredible than I could ever imagine. So get out there and make a lifelong dream come true.
50. Decide on a Lifelong Dream
Maybe you’ve never had a dream come true because you don’t have a dream … or you don’t think you do.
Write a list of things you wish you could do before you die. Keep the list nearby you and ad items to it constantly. Even write down the dreams you have for other people. Do you want to see your child succeed or your partner quit their job and pursue a lifelong passion? Add that to the list, too.
You’ll discover certain items on the list tug at your heart-strings more than others. These are your dreams. Knowing what they are is your first step to achieving them.
Whatever it might be. I am partial to eating Tim Tams and watching Dr. Phil, or listening to the Rasmus. Be proud to be silly.
Don’t go for the normal pizza – see if your favorite Italian or Moroccan restaurant do deliveries? Will the bakery send you out a fresh-baked loaf? Bask in the glory of ringing someone up and having hot food arrive on your doorstep. It’s a wonderful world we live in.
Dress up like a tourist (shorts, shirt, camera, “bum bag”, ridiculous hat, guidebook in back pocket) and go do something really touristy: whale-watching, the tourist bus tour, or go to the over-priced amusements. Talk loudly, take hundreds of photos.
Find all the clothes in your wardrobe you don’t really like and attack them with hundreds of studs and spikes. I bet you like them better now, right?
Buy a silly instrument – a harmonica, a tin whistle, a recorder, a djambje, anything as long as it’s inexpensive and makes noise. Be loud and enthusiastic in your playing.
Make a “feel happy” soundtrack of your favorite songs, and stick it on your MP3 player. Put on your favorite walking clothes. Walk to your local park or river, stopping at the dairy on the way to pick up a loaf of bread. Walk through the park listening to your favorite songs, a find a good stop to sit down a throw morsels of bread to the ducks and geese.
Find a secret place. Your secret place should be high up, with a great view. Look for tall trees in the park, abandoned buildings with easily-scaled roofs, or unknown nooks and niches above bridges. Take yourself there when you feel blue, listen to music or read a book and watch the city unfold around you. Be careful climbing to your secret place – falling from your favorite tree won’t cheer you up!
In the cold of winter, your feet need all the warm they can get. A pair of ridiculous slippers – shaped like giraffes, penguins or Eric Adam’s loincloth – cheer you up.
Decide on new nicknames for all of your friends. Send them a text or email to let them know their new nickname, and call them that from now on. The more outrageous the nicknames, the better. Nicknames make a person feel loved, like they’ve reached a new level of intimacy with you.
Changing your morning routine can alter your whole day. If you shower at night, try showering in the morning, just after you wake up. What do you eat for breakfast? DO you eat breakfast? We need to change that? Do you open the curtains? If not, open them wide! Do you get up too early? Too late? Change up your routine for a week, and measure the affects on you whole persona.
Change your alarm clock to something fun. On our epic Europe adventure we had “Morning Manowar”. I tell you, nothing makes you more excited to get up and explore castles than “Hail and Kill” at 7am.
A totem is an embalm representing a creature or object you feel a strong connection with. Carrying a totem on your person gives you the sense of being able to draw power from associating yourself with that creature. It’s a little new-agey, but I also think it’s quite metal.
Find a list of “what’s on in your town”, and for a week, do something new every day. Alternatively, search travel websites for reviews of off-the-beaten-track things to do in your area – sometimes backpackers find the gems you’d never otherwise discover because their hearts and minds are actively searching for those experiences.
One day I was feeling crap, my husband snuck out of the house. He returned 20 minutes later carrying a huge box. What was inside? A lego viking ship! We spent the afternoon making it up and having high seas viking adventures. Best. Cheering. Up. Ever.
Who are you really? What are you about? What makes you tick? What morals and beliefs do you follow? Write yourself a personal manifesto – who you are, who you want to be and how you’re gonna get there. For more info on manifesto writing (an artform in itself) read about Nothing Elegant’s Blog Manifesto project
If you’re a creative type, why not see if you can sell some work online. Etsy is a great place to sell handmade crafts or vintage collections. You don’t have to try and make millions selling your work, but list a few of your best pieces and see how you go.
Mark Twain said “the best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up”. The man speaks truth. Call an old friend up, just to say hi. Text someone and tell them they’re awesome. Take any idea from this list and do it for someone else, instead of for yourself.
Write a Gratitude List – I do this sometimes on the blog. It’s called Up the Irons! and it’s a shout-out to everything good in life. Sometimes, when you concentrate on the bad, you forget all the little things making up the world of good.
Clean out a drawer, cupboard, desk or room you’ve filled up with stuff. Pile up old clothes and books to give to charity shops, and toss the rest away (or recycle it, if you can). You don’t need so much stuff, and having a clean desk/room/drawer feels like having a clean start. I feel instantly fresh and inspired after cleaning my eternally cluttered writing desk. Here’s how you can purge your closet without losing your mind.
Don’t you find something oddly comforting about a live, roaring fire? My family has always had open fires blazing throughout winter – I’ve never owned a heater till I moved to Auckland and lived in a hostel. We would sit round the fire at night and eat dinner, do our homework, watch TV.
A diet of highly processed foods deprives us of much-needed nutrients, and nutrients make us happy. So give yourself a nutrient feast – find your local farmers market and spend up large and the freshest, most delicious fruits and vegetables. Toss into a salad, bake into a pie, boil up in a big vat of soup, or just enjoy raw with olive oil and hummus.
You’re going to need a partner for this. Dig out all your “old school” board games – Monopoly, Hamburger (my favorite, cuz it’s about food), Mousetrap, Trouble, UNO, Backgammon … whatever you had as a kid, and play them all. Make fairy bread and drink orange juice and wrap yourself in big blankets.
Blow bubbles. You can buy little jars of bubble mixture at those $2 shops, or make a simple bubble mixture at home using dishwashing liquid, water, and sugar or corn syrup. TIP: Storing your solution for a day can actually lead to better bubbles.
I bake bread every day. EVERY DAY. I don’t use a breadmaker, or any prepackaged mix. I make bread the old-fashioned way – the way humankind has made bread for 10,000 years.
Need I say more?
This isn’t cheap, but I guarantee it will cheer you up. Go on a hot air balloon ride.
Maybe it’s just a New Zealand thing, but nothing says relaxing and good times like going to the beach.
If you feel lonely, give part of your home to an animal without one. Every day, the SPCA and other animal shelters rescue hundreds of unwanted, neglected pets, and if no one comes to adopt them … you know what happens. It’s shameful and we should all do our bit for these animals.
Who thought up such a ridiculous idea? And yes, as silly as karaoke seems, it’s immensely popular and lots of fun. Can’t sing? Neither can anyone else. Just do the best you can. Ham it up, be OTT ridiculous. Death growl if you have to.
Wait until fireworks go on sale in November, and stock up on these little packets of joy. Bring out a few sparklers to light up your BBQs over summer, or just dance around the backyard when you feel a little feral. Spell naughty words in the air, have a dual against a tree, or just pretend you are a fire fairy. Sparklers rule.
Find your nearest ice cream parlour, and order the largest, most ridiculous sundae on their menu. Eat it all. Don’t feel guilty.
Go to the library or a second-hand bookshop and find some of those series books from the nineties: the ones you undoubtedly read: The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Pony Club, Goosebumps, Fear Street. Read them all again. Damn, weren’t they terribly awesome?
My husband and I are taking German classes at a nearby high school. It costs us $89 for seven 2 hour lessons, with all materials included. The school runs classes in everything: from burlesque dancing to Metalworking to Indian cooking. They are cheap, they are run by enthusiastic, experienced teachers, they are filled with interesting people, they enable you to learn new skills. In short – community classes are awesome.
Buy yourself a fancy notebook, and a nice pen. I love Black Spot Books and Bibliographica who hand bind journals they’ve created using recycled leather and found materials. I also like Immortal Longing’s Shakespeare-inspired journals. Lots of people adore Moleskine journals, but I honestly don’t see the difference between them and any other notebook.
Open your gig guide, close your eyes, and point. That’s where you’re going tonight. Dress inappropriately, and make the best of it.
Find your local observatory or planetarium. Show up for one of their evening lectures – they normally set up telescopes so you can look at celestial bodies. Better yet, take a course in astronomy. Amaze yourself at just how busy it is out there.
You know all those random “friends of friends’ who keep adding you on Facebook? Strike up a conversation with one of them. You know you already have something in common, and they added you so they can’t think your a serial killer or anything. Who knows, a “friend of a friend” might turn into an actual friend.
By Yourself. Yes, go out on a “typical” date all by yourself. Eat at your favorite restaurant (and don’t bring a book. You don’t need to distract yourself from your own company), and then go to a movie you really want to see. Buy yourself all the treats YOU want to eat, sit wherever you want (I love sitting right in the front row, and I fold all the armrests up and lie down. Cushiony!)
Write someone a love letter in chalk on the steps up to their apartment or the pavement outside their flat. Use several colours. Hide and watch their reaction when they see it.
Pull all the liqueur bottles out of your cabinet and line then up on the counter. Now, go to the fridge and pull out all the liquids and fruits. Do the same with the pantry. Now, line up all your shot glasses and start mixing! You’re searching for the perfect signature cocktail. This involves lots of taste-testing. Be daring, be crazy. Give your drink a wacky name. (This is an also excellent way to use all those liqueur bottles people have left with half a centimetre of liquid inside.)
Road trips kick ass. A car, good music, an adventure, bad food, what more could you want? I love a trip when you know roughly where you’re going, but you don’t have a specific schedule, so you can stop and look at random things on the way.On the last road trip I went on – up to a campsite by a lake – we stopped to take air-guitar pictures outside a picturesque white chapel in the middle of a rolling field. Next, we made faces underneath a duck-crossing sign. Here’s everything you need to plan a roadtrip.
It could be anything – I collect miniature trinket boxes (I want to start collecting pill or snuff boxes exclusively), and fossils, and I used to collect locks of hair. My husband collects vintage books about trains. I have a friend who collects typewriters, another who collects statues of elephants.
Owing people money stresses me out. I feel like a failure if I haven’t budgeted accordingly to be able to pay for something in cash, or I have to borrow money from a friend.
You can buy a decent-sized wading pool at Wal-mart. Fill it with water (warm or hot) and bubble bath. Pour yourself a glass of wine and have your own private spa in your backyard. I like to do this at night when you can see the stars.
You might have realised by now, I’m a big fan of celebrating random and made-up holidays. I’ve written before about remembering Dimebag Darryl and having a metal Christmas, but I’m sure you can think of lots of ideas for random or made-up holidays.
On a couple of occasions I’ve had to let go of friends who were hurting me. They were good friends and good people and I loved them and didn’t realise what a negative effect they had on my life, until it was too late. Sometimes, loving someone isn’t enough, when they expect you to carry them too.
Choose a culture or time period you don’t know anything about, but have always been fascinated with, and start reading books and websites. Whether you choose ancient Egypt, Communist Russia, Imperial China, the Maori or the Inuit, start a love affair with another time or place.
Bake a cake for a friend, or for your colleagues at work. For no reason, except “just because”. I find the act of baking therapeutic – no matter what’s going on in the world, you still stir the batter, lick the bowl, and make your house smell amazing. Plus, you get to surprise someone with cake.
I love hugs – they’re my favorite thing in the whole world. If you hug someone (a friend, a parent, a lover, a stranger), chances are, they’ll hug you back. Yay, hugs for everyone!
Even if no one else cares, even if no one in the whole wide world wants to listen to you moan or growl or cry or scream or laugh or sob or growl or smile – I do. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I always answer.Wow! Thanks for all those amazing ideas, Steff! How do you guys cope when you’re in a foul mood?